Thursday, October 1, 2009

Strength of Schedule Watch: Week 5

The media has spoken. The three candidates to crash the BCS are TCU, Boise State and Houston. You are going to hear a lot of debate over the coming weeks and months (or as long as two or more of those three remain unbeaten) over who deserves a BCS bid the most. So now it's as important as ever for the Frogs' opponents to win some ballgames to help TCU out.

Game of the Week:
Clemson (2-2) at Maryland (1-3) (11:00am Saturday, ESPN U)
-Ooooooh, I see ESPN. Clemson against a 1-3 team is good enough to be televised, but not Clemson against the #15 team in the country? OK great, that makes sense. Even though what ought to be weighed more is TCU's conference schedule against Houston's in CUSA and Boise's in the WAC, you know the media is going to focus on all three teams' wins against BCS-conference teams, and Clemson is most definitely TCU's marquee BCS victory. The Frogs really need the Tigers to start picking up some victories against their ACC foes, and it starts Saturday against the formerly-morbidly-obese Ralph Friedgen and the Terps.

Other important games:
Air Force (3-1) at Navy (2-2) (2:30pm Saturday, CBS-College)
-The Falcons have only played 2 of their non-conference games so far (beat Nicholls State, lost at Minnesota) and still have their rivalry games remaining against the other service academies. Starting with this weekend's game in Annapolis, Air Force has a chance to win the Commander in Chief's Trophy for the first time in a while as finish 3-1 outside of MWC play, which would give them a realistic shot of winning 8 games this year.

UNLV (2-2) at Nevada (0-3) (3:00pm Saturday)
-After the Rebels' disappointing loss to Wyoming last weekend, they really need to get back on track against their in-state rivals up there in Washoe County. Not only would a win give UNLV a 3-1 record in non-conference play and put them back on track for a possible bowl berth, but it would send the Wolfpack- considered in the preseason to be one of Boise's main obstacles to a WAC title- into an 0-4 hole, striking a blow to the Broncos' SOS.

BYU (3-1) vs. Utah State (1-2) (8:00pm Friday, The Mtn)
-The 20th ranked Cougars really need to keep distancing themselves from their embarrassing loss to Florida State a few weeks ago, but they can't overlook Utah State. The Aggies barely lost to those other Aggies in College Station and put up some pretty respectable offensive numbers in their season-opening loss to Utah.

Colorado State (3-1) at Idaho (3-1) (9:30pm Saturday, ESPN U)
-After losing to BYU in Provo last weekend, the Rams finish off their non-conference slate this weekend at the Kibbie Dome in Moscow, Idaho with a tilt against the 3-1 Vandals. With a victory here, the Rams would be 4-0 outside of the MWC and would have a good shot at winning 8 or 9 games this season. A loss by Idaho also has the added bonus of damaging Boise's SOS.

Wyoming (2-2) at Florida Atlantic (0-3) (3:00pm Saturday)
-Wyoming's surprise win over UNLV kept alive hope of a bowl game for the doo-doo brown-clad Cowboys. With a win over Florida Atlantic down in Fort Lauderdale this weekend (and you can definitely file this one in the "please God do not lose this one" file), the Cowboys would be 2-2 in non-conference play.

San Diego State (1-3) vs. New Mexico State (2-2) (7:00pm Saturday)
-Another MWC vs. WAC game, so a win by the Aztecs hurts Boise State. SDSU already lost to Idaho in non-conference play, so they owe us this one.

Texas State (2-1) at Southern Utah (1-3) (2:00pm Saturday)
-Just keep winning games and putting up big offensive numbers, Bobcats. Again, I'm not even sure that a team's games against 1-AA schools count against SOS, but it would be nice to see Texas State, who's ranked 17th in 1-AA, at least be one of the better teams in that division.

Games I have little hope about:
New Mexico (0-4) at Texas Tech (2-2) (2:30pm Saturday, FSN)
-Pretty weird past week for both head coaches in this one. Tech's Mike Leach suspended one of his starting linemen and banned his players from using Twitter after their loss at Houston, and New Mexico's Mike Locksley PUNCHED one of his assistants in the face! Unfortunately for the Frogs and the MWC, the Lobos are playing about as well as Paschal's JV team right now, and really don't stand a chance against the Red Raiders.

Virginia (0-3) at North Carolina (3-1) (11:00am Saturday, ESPN 360)
-The Cavaliers may be the biggest disappointment, from a SOS perspective, on TCU's schedule this year. Hopefully they can turn things around so that the Frogs don't end up getting penalized by the computers for a game that, when scheduled, was thought to bring a SOS boost. They did come close to beating Southern Miss in Hattiesburg two weeks ago, but North Carolina- who is in the 'also receiving votes' category in both polls- will be another stiff test for a UVA team that has looked very flat so far.

Utah (3-1) is off this weekend, and need to figure out what they are going to do without star tailback Matt Asiata, who was lost for the season in the game against Louisville, before heading to Fort Collins to take on Colorado State next weekend.

Just who is June Jones?

When SMU hired June Jones to be their head football coach before the 2008 season, they really thought it would instantly turn their program around, prompting a huge marketing blitz and the now-infamous billboards (honestly, I never thought I'd hear quite so much about one guy coming again after the whole Monica Lewinsky thing ten years prior). So far, the jury is still out in regards to why the hire has yet to create the intended splash: was the kid doing the cannonball not fat enough, or was there just no water in the pool to begin with?

We'll get back to Jones' time at SMU in a bit, but first let's look at his past. June Jones was born a poor black child...damn it, wikipedia! But seriously, Coach Jones' oddly-feminine first name is apparently a family thing, as he was born June Shelton Jones III in Portland, Oregon in 1953. He went on to play quarterback at Oregon, Hawaii and Portland State before playing for the Falcons for 5 years and then one year in the CFL. He then began a rather nomadic coaching career, starting as the QB coach at Hawaii in 1983 before moving to the professional ranks, where he held jobs with various teams in the USFL, CFL and NFL, including head coaching stints with the Falcons and Chargers. During that time, he never stayed in one place for more than three years.

In 1999, Jones returned to the collegiate ranks to become head coach at (one of) his (three) alma mater(s). The Warriors had lost 18 straight games prior to his arrival, including 0-12 in 1998, but in '99 Jones led them to a 9-4 record and the third bowl game in school history. It was that instant success, along with the Sugar Bowl berth in 2007, that must've convinced SMU that he was their guy.

His time at Hawaii wasn't without controversy, though. First, there was the rumor that he impregnated a volleyball player. OK, so that one may be a little unfair, given that there's never been any confirmation, to date. But there was his sour-grapes moment of calling Tim Tebow a "system quarterback" after the 2007 Heisman ceremony, mocking the criticism that had been lobbed at his own quarterbacks for years- including Colt Brennan, who was a finalist for the award that year. As a head coach, shouldn't you just congratulate the guy who won? Then there was the notorious line in which Jones quipped that "Some of my best players I've recruited out of jail." That comment had to have raised a few red flags with the SMU administration, right? But then again, fielding a team of criminals has worked for Jerry Jones (or at least used to), so maybe they'd be ok with him taking that approach.

Nevertheless, SMU saw Jones as their express ticket to the top and rounded up $10 million from wealthy alumni (because the athletic department itself, with their paltry ticket sales, could never afford that) to lure the coach from Hawaii with a 5-year contract that pays him $2 million a year. Fifteen games into said contract, that means that Jones has collected $2.5 million in salary so far from SMU. When you consider the 3-12 record he's posted in that time, it means that they are spending about $830,000 per win (or $2.5 million per win over FBS schools). Now I'm not part of the financial industry, but even to an outsider like myself that doesn't seem like a healthy return on investment. And unfortunately for SMU, the results in college football are very public, so you can't just lie about how things are going to drive up the price of your company's stock. But it's not like anyone associated with SMU would ever do something like that, right?

In all fairness, I do believe that June Jones is a good coach and do still think he's got a chance to turn the Mustangs into a winner. It's just been pretty humorous to see that their solution to their problem was just to throw a shitload of money at it and assume that it'll be instantly fixed.

Morning Dump

Wow, Patterson will use anything for motivation Dallas Morning News

No timetable as TCU seeks new AD Star-Telegram

SMU linebacker Yenga is a breakout player
Dallas Morning News

TCU/SMU Iron Skillet game different than it was in 2005 Examiner

June Jones coaching with a heavy heart
Sporting News

What to watch for the non-AQ's week 5 ESPN

How long will perfection last for college football's undefeated? Sporting News